About Artists Current Archive Mateyka Gallery Home


November 6 - December 18, 2004

Reception for the Artist: Friday, November 5, from 6-8 pm

The sculptor, Athena Tacha is well known for her large scale public works for outdoor sites. These include "Victory Plaza" in Dallas, Texas; "Merging" at Case-Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio; "Blair Fountain" in Tulsa, Oklahoma; "Leaning Arches" in Miami, Florida; and "Connections" in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The artist is currently working on several projects including the Mohammad Ali Center plaza in Louisville, Kentucky and "Wisconsin Place" in Bethesda, Maryland.

Athena Tacha's first solo exhibition at the Marsha Mateyka Gallery is titled "Shields and Universes: Sculptures and Drawings". These wall hung sculptures and drawings are part of what the artist refers to as her private work. The "shields" in the exhibition are fragile sculptures made predominantly from natural materials collected by the artist over many years. Their shape is the rounded shield of the goddess Athena, the patron deity of ancient Athens, Greece - the artist's homeland.

In this current exhibition, "Feather Shield for Thalia", dedicated to a close friend who recently died, is made entirely of feathers embedded in wine corks collected over the artist's lifetime. Another, "700 Aegean Dives: Double-sided Shield for Ellen" is constructed in wave patterns of Greek abalone shells collected by the artist and her husband during many scuba excursions off the coast of Greece. "Athena's Shield" is formed from the spinney, barnacled shells of oysters found by the artist on the rocky beaches of North Carolina, while "Thymari Dives" is constructed solely from the delicately colored shells of Greek limpets glued back to back .

The artist states that "the shields continue to talk about the futility of protection, about the fragility and strength of feathers, about the delicate creatures that

the shells shielded during their lifetime". These deliberately delicate "shields" "... cannot protect the body and poignantly stress its intrinsic vulnerability...the futility of protection"* The most recent sculpture in the exhibition, "17 Year Shield" is made entirely of exoskeletons shed by this year's cicadas.

The "universes" in the exhibition are drawings created on black paper with a variety of materials - hot glue, silicone, glass beads, silver pen, silver powder, silk screen ink to name a few. Athena Tacha describes the internal dynamic in each drawing as " the idea of energy and large scale experienced through small scale...the tremendous activity of subatomic matter...I'm interested in testing how our mind can conceive extremes of size and how they can be expressed...with units that are as small as I can draw them, but as active as I can make them" **

Athena Tacha's public works from 1970 to 1988 were the subject of a major retrospective for the artist at the High Museum in Atlanta in 1989. Her works are in major museum collections including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY, Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland OH, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA, the Rose Art Museum , Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Texas, Museum of Modern Art, New York as well as Washington's Hirshhorn Museum and Smithsonian Museum of American Art

"Athena Tacha New Sculptures and Drawings", exhibition catalogue, Foundation for Hellenic Culture, New York, NY, 2001, p. 3

**"Athena's Other Selves", interview with Glenn Harper in "Dancing in the Landscape , The Sculpture of Athena Tacha", Editions Ariel, Washington, DC, 2000, p.14.